Winter is often a time of great joy. For some, it can also bring on sadness or depression. Factors such as low vitamin D, Seasonal Affective Disorder, and other sources may be to blame. Thankfully—with the right strategies, treatments, and support—there are ways to address sadness and depression to get on track toward feeling better.
Note: Each individual should follow the advice of their medical professionals or doctors and speak with them before making changes to diet, exercise, or supplements. This post is for informational use only and should not be considered medical advice.
Sources of Wintertime Sadness in Seniors:
Sadness and depression are not the same thing, but often are accompanied by similar symptoms. Identifying the source of the symptoms, finding a support system, and beginning treatment is important to leading a fulfilling life. If experiencing signs and symptoms of depression, please contact your doctor for advice. Discover possible sources for sadness or depression in the wintertime:
Low Vitamin D:
Winter blues at older ages could be brought on by a vitamin D deficiency. People naturally get vitamin D from sunlight, and decreased exposure could lessen the ability to get enough. A deficiency could also result from medications affecting vitamin D production and metabolization, and aging skin decreasing vitamin D3 production.
Vitamin d levels can be increased with safe sun exposure and consumption of supplements, salmon, tuna, cod liver oil, egg yolks, mushrooms, oatmeal, cereal, soy milk, and cow milk. As for how much Vitamin D should be consumed daily, the National Institute on Aging recommends at least 600 IU, but not more than 4,000 IU, for those 50-70. At least 800 IU, but not more than 4,000 IU, is recommended for those 70 and older.
Seasonal Affective Disorder:
Another source for wintertime mood change could be Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of depression that cycles seasonally. SAD is a temporary condition that can be due to a lack of sunlight or hormone disruption with season changes. Signs of SAD include loss of interest in things once enjoyed, changes to appetite or sleep, sadness, anxiety, tiredness, increased sensitivity, and feelings of hopelessness, according to Interim Healthcare. Treating SAD may include light therapy, talk therapy, aromatherapy, physical activity, and/or doctor-prescribed medications, to name a few options.
Other sources of sadness or depression:
Winter sadness or depression could also result from poor dietary choices and/or lack of exercise—both which can be helped with lifestyle changes. Holiday stress, nostalgia, and social isolation may also bring down one’s mood during winter.
Here are some tips to help brighten those long winter days:
If wintertime sadness has began to sink in, try a few of these mood boosting activities:
- Bundle up and head outside for sunshine or sit by the window with a book and let the sun stream through if it’s sunny
- Grab a friend for a game of cards or a talk
- Try to eat balanced meals all day
- Get exercise, even if it’s a short walk
- Spend time with a furry companion.
- Enjoy some music or some dancing
- Have a cup of tea or cocoa to warm you and bring joy
- Take part in a cooking project
- Join in on karaoke with a group
- Play a board game with friends
- Brighten someone else’s day by engaging with them and seeing how they are doing
- Build a model airplane
- Lead a Bible study group
- Knit, crochet, or cross stitch a gift
- Make a scrapbook or journal
- Have a puzzle competition with others
- Try to learn a new skill, like a language
- Watch a movie and have a snack
- Unclutter your space
- Go on an outing or shopping trip with a group when one is planned
- Make cards for family or friends
- Paint a picture of a scene outside
- List three good things from today
- Meditate or practice deep breathing
- Sign up for an activity for tomorrow
- Get a good night’s sleep (you will be less sensitive to negative feelings)
- Practice smiling for an instant lift in mood